The book of Ruth is always seen as a love story. It’s one which parallels the love story of Christ and the Church! It also illustrates some of the roles of Jesus.
One cannot open this book without noticing the way in which God details the love and loyalty of the main character Ruth. She has fallen in love with her new family, especially Naomi and with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Now, Ruth having come back to Israel with Naomi found that the only way to make a living initially was by gleaning in the fields. By coincidence the field that she gleaned in belonged to Boaz who was a kinsman of Naomi’s. Coincidence or divine appointment?
Ruth speaks of the grace she receives from Boaz and is, I suggest, representative of the Church, a gentile bride. Naomi is representative of the people of Israel and we see from this book that we in the Church should have a love for Israel as well as for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
We should also note that it’s Naomi that educates Ruth as to the benefits of her kinsman redeemer and for us it’s Israel that educates us about our redeemer Jesus.
We learn that Jesus had to come as a MAN to be our kinsman redeemer and the Church has a Jewish Messiah; a book written by Jews with a Jewish context; and was started by Jewish leaders.
Anyway, once Naomi realized whose field it was and saw that Ruth was favoured greatly by Boaz she told Ruth what to do in order to find out if he was willing to redeem Naomi‘s property and family.
She told Ruth to watch where he slept after the harvest and to settle down at his feet when he was asleep. When he awoke and was surprised to find her there, Ruth asked him to cover her with the end of his clothing or his wings and redeem her.
I should point out that there was nothing inappropriate in any of this. In our day importance is shown in the forces by stripes on the shoulder. In Boaz’ day the wings or hem of one’s clothing showed one’s authority.
Do you remember how the woman with an issue of blood said to herself, “If I can just touch the hem (or wings) of Jesus’ garments I will be healed? The hem or wings represented His authority, and the prophesy about Jesus was that ‘He would rise with healing in His wings’!
So back to Ruth…
Boaz tells her that he is indeed willing to redeem her but there is another kinsman who is a closer family member who must be given the opportunity to redeem her first. But, he tells her, ‘don’t worry I’ll take care of things’! He gave Ruth six measures of barley as a token that he would not rest (6 days for work) until it was all settled.
At first opportunity Boaz meets with the closer kinsman redeemer and let’s him know that he can redeem and therefore own Naomi’s land.
He is very willing to do this but when he is informed that he must also redeem and marry Ruth, he baulks at this.
To marry a Moabite would ruin his inheritance since the first-born son would be attributed to Ruth's earlier husband.
When the man gave up his right to redeem the land and Ruth, Boaz took it up and he married Ruth and became the kinsman redeemer for the family. A beautiful love story.
Some of the parallels with Jesus, Israel and the Church, I see as these.
Boaz was able, willing, and had the means to redeem the land and Ruth and Naomi. He also gave up his personal inheritance (future) for Ruth, a gentile bride whom he loved, and for Naomi, representing Israel. Boaz bought a field he did not really want in order to get his gentile bride.
Jesus also gave up His life for a gentile bride, the Church, and to redeem Israel. Because of His love He bought the whole world with His life when what he really wants is a loving bride!
Rahab of Jericho and Salmon who were Boaz’s mother and father; Boaz and Ruth; Jesus and the Church. This family has a history of marrying for love outside the expected genetic line!
And did you ever notice that Ruth’s baby is called Naomi’s child and is himself called a ‘Goel’, a kinsman redeemer? This child is called a child of Naomi, so that he represents the kinsman redeemer (Jesus), who was to be born of Israel (represented by Moami!). The whole issue of a kinsman redeemer needs two people to represent Jesus’ role, just as the day of atonement ceremony needed two goats to represent the later roles of Jesus (the one who took our sins in his body and removed them; and the one who died voluntarily for us)!
But what’s our role as the gentile bride of Christ?
To love God and love Israel and all people groups, and to be loyal followers who keep Jesus’ commands and raise up new disciples to follow us as we tread in Jesus’ footsteps!
Best wishes for grace and the peace of Jesus.